What a week this has been!
One highlight of the week was our guest speaker on Wednesday. Shira Springer, sportswriter for the Boston Globe, spoke to our school community about ethics and journalism. I am thrilled to report that Shira already has plans to return to Gann for a smaller meeting with our student journalists.
Early in the week I had the privilege of spending two days at another New England independent school as a member of the Visiting Committee for the school’s accreditation process. I had the opportunity to observe every aspect of a high school over 150 years old and to reflect on Gann Academy, our mission and our educational program. I was proud to share Gann Academy’s unique vision with other heads of school and educators from other independent schools.
Another highlight for me was an email I received from a teacher about a great moment he experienced in the classroom. During a senior seminar on Midrash (Rabbinic interpretations and stories), the class was studying about the iconoclasm of Abraham and the discussion moved into questions about the foundations of our moral values. During the discussion, which was based on a traditional Jewish text, a member of the class raised an example from his history class about Nazi doctors and their participation in the Holocaust. Later in the discussion, a different student shared something she had learned in English Literature class, where they had studied the Book of Genesis. The teacher explained to me that he believed the students’ study of English literature had opened their eyes to the power of the Biblical text, and shed light on profound questions about human reasoning and morality.
In the words of this teacher, “it suddenly all came together, and I shared with the students, ‘this is it . . . we have discovered what Torah (in its broadest sense) is all about.'”
The email reminded me of the power of our dual curriculum, engaging students in essential questions about what it means to be a Jew and a human being in the world. This significant example represents the beauty of interdisciplinary education, of the kind of integrated learning that breaks down artificial barriers between disciplines, and that invites students into one, ongoing dialogue. When our students enter the conversation, they join the voices of history, literature, the great texts of the Jewish tradition, and other disciplines as well. And what greater joy do we feel as educators than when our students contribute their own, new voices to the conversation?
May our learning, in every discipline, contribute depth and meaning to our lives, and may the year be filled with many more moments of discovery like these.
Rabbi Marc Baker